The maximum 50-person rule in B.C. for a business during the COVID-19 pandemic will not apply to retail food and grocery stores – as long as physical distancing can be maintained.
The provincial government issued the clarification Sunday, on the back of the retail/grocery sector asking if the 50-maximum rule applied to them.
And given that some of the larger stores could conceivably have more than 50 people in their premises at any one time, the government saw fit to publish further information.
According to the government’s release, that particular sector – which is classed as an essential service – the 50-person order didn’t directly apply to the retail food and grocery industry.
However, “The spirit of the order should be followed. This means that, for example, in large grocery stores where it is feasible to have more than 50 people present at one time, it is permissible to do so provided that appropriate physical distancing can be maintained.”
Most grocery stores have been complying with the order, with areas marked on the ground for checkout lineups to maintain the two-metre distance and security at the front door to count customers going in and out.
Key considerations for supermarkets include:
* enhancing the premise's sanitation plan and schedule, and ensuring staff are practising proper hygiene. This includes frequent hand washing, only coughing or sneezing into an elbow, and avoiding touching one's face;
* placing hand sanitizer with a minimum of 60% ethyl alcohol in dispensers near doors, pay stations and other high-touch locations for customer and staff use;
* ensuring washrooms are always well stocked with liquid soap and paper towels, and that warm running water is available;
* providing clean carry-out bags for purchased food and grocery products; customers should not use their own containers, reusable bags or boxes;
* posting signs at each check-out indicating that no customer packaging is to be used or placed on check-out counters;
* ensuring cones or tape markers are in place every two metres to provide customers with visible queues that support physical distancing;
* using physical queue-line controls, such as crowd control cordons at entrances and in check-out lines outside the stores;
* do not sell bulk items, except via gravity feed bins or where staff dispense the bulk items; and
* anyone with COVID-19-like symptoms, such as sore throat, fever, sneezing or coughing, must self-isolate at home for 14 days.
The government said employers should reassess their work environment every day and keep updated with the information posted on its website at Gov.BC.ca/COVID19.